The limits of risk

My paper, The scope of inductive risk, has been accepted at the journal Metaphilosophy. I’m told it will appear in the January 2022 issue.

Abstract: The Argument from Inductive Risk (AIR) is taken to show that values are inevitably involved in making judgements or forming beliefs. After reviewing this conclusion, I pose cases which are prima facie counterexamples: the unreflective application of conventions, use of black-boxed instruments, reliance on opaque algorithms, and unskilled observation reports. These cases are counterexamples to the AIR posed in ethical terms as a matter of personal values. Nevertheless, it need not be understood in those terms. The values which load a theory choice may be those of institutions or past actors. This means that the challenge of responsibly handling inductive risk is not merely an ethical issue, but is also social, political, and historical.

Season songs’ revenge

One side effect of the pandemic is that I’m out and about less, so I hear less programmed Christmas music. Here’s a flashback to pre-pandemic times, when I did a series of posts about my favorite holiday songs. I’m not sure the list would be any different this year.

  1. Fairytale of New York
  2. The Boar’s Head
  3. Fuck You If You Don’t Like Christmas
  4. I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
  5. It Came Upon the Midnight Clear
  6. Good King Wenceslas
  7. Greensleeves
a boar carrying a tray of food

Every video has an equal and opposite reaction video

I’m not a big fan of reaction videos as a genre, but Glamour‘s second-order reaction video series You Sang My Song is an exception. A star watches YouTube1 covers of their hits, and then the people who made each cover watches the reaction video of the star watching their cover. The stars sometimes get genuinely excited. The YouTubers are often genuinely verklempt.2

Continue reading “Every video has an equal and opposite reaction video”

Sucking on a chili dog

One thing about cover songs is that there are a lot of weird edge cases. And so people ask What does your account say about… some oddity that they have in mind. For example: What does your account say about Tom McGovern’s video where he plays John Melloncamp’s “Jack and Diane” but replaces the usual lyrics with permutations of the phrase “suckin’ on a chili dog”?

The answer is a bit convoluted.

Continue reading “Sucking on a chili dog”

Why I don’t give a definition of “cover”, Christmas in October edition

In a remembrance of his friend Rob Aldridge, Rick Beato recounts being in a band with him. They were playing Christmas songs in a bar. The proprietor interrupted their set and said that he thought they were going to play covers.

Aldridge replied, “What are you talking about? We didn’t write these songs!”

Unamused, the proprietor paid them for the gig on the condition that they stop playing immediately.

a donkey with a harp

Not understanding how consent works

Via the Guardian: Jonathan Mitchell, the architect of Texas’ abortion ban, claims that it doesn’t limit women’s ability to control their own bodies. Instead, “women can ‘control their reproductive lives’ without access to abortion” because they can practice abstinence. This is a bad take in lots of ways, but it requires at minimum that all sex be consensual. If he took as hard a line against rape culture as he takes against women’s choice, one might believe that he isn’t just plumping for patriarchy.

Over on Twitter: Kathleen Stock writes, “Some knowledge is essentially experiential- you can’t get knowledge of x, just by hearing description of x. Colours, tastes are like this.. and sexual pleasure. If you’ve never had sexual function, you can’t give informed consent to losing it imo: you can’t know what’s lost.” It’s an argument against puberty blockers, but it also has the immediate consequence that first sexual experiences can’t be consensual.1

Polite conversation

Today I attended part of a regular seminar series at Uppsala University. An upside of a dire times is that it was on Zoom, so I was able to just drop in. The talk was by Brandon Polite on The Fine Art of Sonic Duplication.

Polite discussed artists remaking their own tracks for licensing reasons, the paradigmatic examples being Def Leppard (who remade a few tracks so as to squeeze their record label for a better deal) and Taylor Swift (who is in the process of remaking her first six albums so as to crush misogyny and master her destiny). These are cases I’ve also been thinking about recently, so it was interesting to hear his take on them. The questions from the Uppsala folks were also top notch.

A screenshot of the talk. I’ve blurred out the folks from Uppsala, because I’m not sure about protocol.